Other People with Brad Listi
Summary: Brad Listi is the author of a novel called ATTENTION. DEFICIT. DISORDER. and the founder of The Nervous Breakdown, an online culture magazine and literary community. He also runs TNB Books, an independent press specializing in literary fiction and nonfiction. Here, he offers up in-depth, inappropriate interviews with today's leading authors.
Lauren Groff is the guest. She's the author of the novel ARCADIA, now available from Hyperion. It has received starred reviews from Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist. And Richard Russo raves: "Richly peopled and ambitious and oh, so lovely, Lauren Groff’s Arcadia is one of the most moving and satisfying novels I’ve read in a long time. It’s not possible to write any better without showing off." An excellent conversation with one of our best young novelists. Topics of conversation include: bugs, Gainesville, treadmills, lizards, racoons, heat, cold, sweat lodges, painting, musicians, anxiety, kneading, photography, Modigliani, France, Amherst, David Foster Wallace, Stephen King, Jeffrey Eugenides, Marcel Proust, reading, classics, John Updike, Moby Dick, utopia, Ayn Rand, idealism, empathy, children, sleep disorders, Cooperstown, excruciating ordinariness, sports, gap years, Stanford, Lorrie Moore, Meryl Streep, perfectionism, depression, faith in humanity, and publication anxiety. Monologue topics include: Sarah Groff, Olympics 2012, sports, the ESPYs, being physically inconsequential, genetic freaks, the role of talent, Sylvester Stallone, Rocky II, accidental comedies, and Q Moonblood.
Maud Newton is the guest. One of the web's most influential book bloggers. She also reviews books and is a former attorney who now works as an editor and writer for (a legal publishing division of) Thomson Reuters. She has written about culture and the arts for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Bookforum, and The Paris Review, and she was the recipient of the 2009 Narrative Prize for “When the Flock Changed,” an excerpt from her novel-in-progress. Pleased to have her on the program—the 50th episode! Plenty to discuss. Topics of conversation include: blogging, books, Bookslut, Laila Lalami, Dennis Johnson, tax law, Florida, unhappy childhoods, reading, conservatism, liberalism, law school, religion, Brooklyn, Jennifer Howard, insularity, Mark Sarvas, George Murray, Lizzie Skurnick, The Chimerist, Laura Miller, The Millions, The Rumpus, HTML Giant, The Second Pass, John Williams, Tumblr, Twitter, timing, prostitutes, critics, memoirs vs. novels, revision, perfectionism, obsessiveness, absurdities, familial dysfunction, and religious extremism. Monologue topics: AWP 2012, Chicago, AutoZone, batteries, mentally disabled man, sushi, strip malls, air travel, nerves, George Harrison, neck pillows, and Darwinian writerly tension.
Joe Blair is the guest. He's the author of the memoir BY THE IOWA SEA, now available from Scribner. Scott Spencer, author of 'Main in the Woods,' raves: An intimate, startling memoir that honors and elevates our quotidian existence. With his contagious curiosity as to what drives him and what holds him back, Blair writes fearlessly and beautifully about the family he loves and also betrays, the people he treasures and plots to escape from. BY THE IOWA SEA is funny and unsettling, painful and rock and roll romantic, and it has the invigorating ring of truth on every page. A terrific conversation. Topics include: marriage, floods, kids, metaphors, infidelity, Iowa City, why, autism, tuberous sclerosis, Massachusetts, forgiveness, Jack Kerouac, workshops, money, sex, love, routine, pain, impermanence, rationality, editing, truth, Nevada, California, wanderlust, motorcycles, air conditioners, heart attacks, control, fear, reviews, special needs parents, divorce, and hope. Monologue topics: AWP, Chicago, gate-crashing, freedom, travel, celebrity fragrances, Sebastian Junger, Jonathan Safran-Foer, Drakkar Noir, Brad, Christiane Amanpour, and Caine from Kung Fu.
Ramona Ausubel is the guest. Her debut novel, No One is Here Except All of Us, is now available in hardcover from Riverhead Press. And her short story "Atria" was published in the April 4, 2011 issue of The New Yorker. Raves the San Francisco Chronicle: No One Is Here Except All of Us contains so many achingly beautiful passages, it''s as if language itself is continually striving to be a refuge....If a book can be said to have a consciousness, the consciousness here is infinitely tender and soulful, magical and true. It's the kind of God we wish for. And the New York Times Book Review says: Fantastical and ambitious...infused with faith in the power of storytelling...Light and tenderness persevere—in a shining moon, in a candle still aglow, in a mother’s embrace of her child. A great conversation with a terrific new author. Topics of conversation include: babies, luck, The New Yorker, Cal-Irvine, short stories, Ron Carlson, Santa Fe, workshop, focus, family, Sardinia, POWs, pogroms, outlines, World War I, World War II, Nazis, Jews, history, fear, gay marriage, topaz, Georgia O'Keeffe, crystals, hippies, the mesa, Barbies, algebra, Ragdale, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Savannah, Forrest Gump, Titanic, Boulder, cooking, poetry, Berkeley, photography, Pitzer, elliptical trainers, making friends, Sky Mall, Doug Anderson, Amy Gerstler, Mexico, Thailand, around-the-world travel, Santa Barbara, children, bilingualism, and surfing. Monologue topics: writing, my novel, acne vulgaris, Bukowski, Ham on Rye, AWP, networking, team-building, synergizing, Walter, the park, shrieking four-year-olds, negligent parents, and my daughter. Please remember to subscribe to the show over at iTunes, or at Stitcher. It's free. Or just push PLAY below. Many thanks, everybody. Enjoy the program... -BL PS. Like the podcast? Please take a moment to rate and review it on iTunes. Thank you!
Ryan Boudinot is the guest. He's the author of the new novel, BLUEPRINTS OF THE AFTERLIFE, now available from Grove Press. John Schwartz, in a review for the New York Times, raves: "A fierce literary imagination, building the kinds of worlds that William Gibson used to write before he discovered the present; it is warmed by the kind of offbeat, riffing humor that has suffused the works of Neal Stephenson and Gary Shteyngart, with Chuck Palahniuk’s cartoonish gore and Neil Gaiman’s creepy otherworlds blended in. . . . Duct-tape yourself to the front of this roller coaster and enjoy the ride." A fascinating conversation with a gifted young writer. Topics of conversation: bookshelves, Iceland, typewriters, Bjork, Sugar Cubes, Sigur Rós, Halldór Laxness, Hobart, Sjón, Dancer in the Dark, dreams, crying, reincarnation, longhand, Ferris Bueller, journalism, sports, precociousness, Evergreen State College, guitar, singing, decisions, maturity, goals, commitments, mentors, Dave Cornelius, Easton's Books, Mt. Vernon, San Francisco, Kafka, sheep, pigs, chickens, revisions, "The Littlest Hitler," Mississippi Review, P.J. Mark, Dave Eggers, and what one can control. Monologue topics: wallets, mall-walking, naked women, body shame, needless worries, public meltdowns, perseverance, death, cells, clouds, sublimation, and smells.
Cheryl Strayed is the guest. She's the author of the new memoir WILD, due out from Knopf on March 20, 2012. And she's also Sugar, the popular advice columnist over at The Rumpus. WILD, which details Strayed's 1,100-mile solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995, is generating a ton of good buzz. Kirkus, in a starred review, calls it "a candid, inspiring narrative of the author’s brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self." So much fun talking with Cheryl. We had plenty to discuss. Topics of conversation include: Sugar, love, advice, self-help, narcissism, anonymity, personal vs. universal, internal vs. external, Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, heroin, sex, grief, California, wilderness, blisters, Oregon, self-destruction, grunge, purification, journaling, book tour, William Faulkner, Adrienne Rich, The Rumpus, The Dream of a Common Language, family, suffering, pain tolerance, book burning, beauty, As I Lay Dying, and llamas. Monologue topics: Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, perspective, boredom, fear, Shenandoah National Park, Merlin, hippies, boxed wine, parties, Patrick, grounding, and inventing things to do.
Adam Wilson is the guest. He's the author of the debut novel FLATSCREEN, now available from Harper Perennial. Raves Sam Lipsyte: "Adam Wilson is a gutsy, funny, and often beautiful writer, and 'Flatscreen' is one of the most hilarious and commanding debuts I’ve read in a long time." And Booklist, in a starred review, calls it "an auspicious debut that promises, in Wilson, a standout addition to a new generation of writers." Plenty to discuss. Topics of conversation include: Austin, bad jobs, whiskey, depression, screenwriting, Richard Linklater, bad decisions, heat, Columbia, Brooklyn, Bookcourt, Don DeLillo, Bret Easton Ellis, The Hold Steady, Boston, Tufts, Jonathan Wilson, social media, shyness, stoners, comedy, O.J. Simpson, The Paris Review, and work habits. Monologue topics: Israel, Cormac McCarthy, Philip Roth, not reading novels, the Santa Fe Institute, honesty, history, and work ethic.
Eleanor Henderson is the guest. She's the author of the debut novel TEN THOUSAND SAINTS, now available in trade paperback from Ecco. It was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2011 by the New York Times Book Review. In a glowing review for the Times, Stacey D'Erasmo writes: "The ambition of TEN THOUSAND SAINTS, Eleanor Henderson’s debut novel about a group of unambitious lost souls, is beautiful. In nearly 400 pages, Henderson does not hold back once: she writes the hell out of every moment, every scene, every perspective, every fleeting impression, every impulse and desire and bit of emotional detritus. She is never ironic or underwhelmed; her preferred mode is fierce, devoted and elegiac." A great deal to talk about here. Topics of conversation include: Ithaca, Greece, bumper stickers, teaching, luck, children's books, agents, revisions, rejections, editorial notes, Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic, the sales process, Lee Boudreaux, bedside manner, editorial tricks, pregnancy, anxiety, straight edge, Split Lip, fundamentalism, punk rock, nerds, dating, architecture, West Palm Beach, Virginia, Soul Asylum, freon, drugs, death, environmentalism, aging, hippies, convictions, savants, Georgia, and extreme moderation. Monologue topics: love, divorce, cute old couples, hunchbacked old couples, weddings, psycho-sexual mind games, Filmmaker magazine, and my burgeoning literary media empire.
Ben Marcus is today's guest. He's the author of four books of fiction, the most recent of which is the critically acclaimed novel THE FLAME ALPHABET, now available from Knopf. "Think again," writes Fiona Maazel at Book Forum. "[The Flame Alphabet] can operate on multiple registers: as metaphor, sociology, conventional thriller, and, at bottom, discourse on parenthood and family that is freakishly sad and incredibly good.” And George Saunders raves: "“I don’t use the word lightly, in fact, I don’t use it at all, but Ben Marcus is a genius, one of the most daring, funny, morally engaged and brilliant writers, someone whose work truly makes a difference in the world. His prose is, for me, awareness objectified—he makes the word new and thus the world.” Thrilled to have Ben on the program. Plenty to discuss. Topics of conversation include: David Markson, literary collage, Brown, Robert Coover, Ralph Waldo Emerson, literary backstabbing, history, suicide, Nicholson Baker, WWII, writing strategies, reviews, teaching, kids, reading, attention spans, dismissiveness, self-imposed rules, primal circumstances, publishing, Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, Austin, Chicago, sports, water skiing, and how a book begins. Monologue topics: in-laws, artifacts of youth, stuff, hoarding, Smurfs, figurines, creepy dolls, retainers, smells, food, putrefaction, waste, and the dream of having nothing.
Ben Tanzer is the guest. He's the author of several books, including 99 PROBLEMS, YOU CAN MAKE HIM LIKE YOU, and MY FATHER'S HOUSE. He is also the proprietor of vast faux media empire. Michael Fitzgerald, author of Radiant Days, calls My Father's House "a sincere and important book full of grace, beauty, and...I'm happy to report...a delicious humor." A very good conversation with a writer whose work has won him many fans in the indie lit scene and beyond. Topics of conversation include: Chicago, sports fandom, Little League, running, endorphins, Obama, OCD, booze, drugs, regimens, maturity, The Grateful Dead, raves, lethargy, genetics, screenwriting, popularity, narrative formulas, painting, defining your audience, Stephen Gaghan, Traffic, luck, ambition, readings, theft, and The Nervous Breakdown. Monologue topics: friends, Crested Butte, storytelling, wayward youth, chemically enhanced situations, The Price is Right, Dickey Betts, homicide, mushrooms, amputees, and Vietnam.
Claire Bidwell Smith is the guest. She's the author of the memoir THE RULES OF INHERITANCE, available now from Hudson Street Press. Darin Strauss, the author of Half a Life, calls it "a perfectly crafted story — not about grief, but how to walk out of grief with your soul intact; it's not a lamentation, but a lesson. 'The Rules of Inheritance' should be required reading for anybody who's trying to get their arms around a big sadness." A tremendous amount to talk about here. Topics of conversation include: pregnancy, nausea, boys vs. girls, hospice, focus, parenthood, WWII, language, grief, traveling, alcohol, guilt, Dave Eggers, Spain, Greyhound buses, San Francisco, Atlanta, beauty, love, funerals, apathy, religion, circles, sex, the afterlife, heaven, hell, catharsis, and self-medication. Monologue topics: death, grief, Ben Kenobe, John Lennon, Davo, Crested Butte, watery balls, absurdity, $5 foot-long, horse sex, and ridiculous species.
Susan Sherman is the guest. She's the author of the acclaimed debut novel THE LITTLE RUSSIAN, now available from Counterpoint Press. And she's also the co-creator of one of the most successful television shows in the history of Disney. Library Journal, in a starred review, has this to say about The Little Russian: "Sherman’s extraordinary debut novel plunges her readers into the bitter cold, deprivation, and upheaval of early 20th-century wartime Russia...a fascinating mix of petty vanity, devoted parenting, and breathtaking courage, fleshed out with cinematic detail that’s both irresistible and spectacularly illuminating. All fiction readers will enjoy." So much to talk about here. Topics of conversation include: Russia, Green Bay, fur, negotiating, luck, Hollywood, Disney, agents, girl teams, timing, sexism, money, freedom, France, death, collaboration, history, research, immaturity, cave people, narrative sculpture, and religion. Monologue topics: complaining, Navy SEALS, perspective, art problems, human agony, man's search for meaning, and war.
Caroline Leavitt is the guest. She's the author of nine novels, the most recent of which is called PICTURES OF YOU, a New York Times bestseller, now available from Algonquin Books. Kirkus Reviews calls it "heartfelt, deft, and highly readable fiction." A great publishing success story. A breakout book on the ninth try, by an author who never stopped working, even when the chips were down. Topics of conversation include: Algonquin, elves, false summits, neuroticism, criticism, Amazon rankings, life-changers, Waltham, disorientation, fear, bullies, bad luck, Ann Arbor, Berkeley, Brandeis, Norman Mailer, bad teachers, Hoboken, Manhattan, and depression. Monologue topics: famous recluses, homeless speed freaks, making out with strange dogs.
Vanessa Veselka is the guest. She's the author of the novel ZAZEN, now available from Red Lemonade. Says Publishers Weekly: "Veselka's prose is chiseled and laced with arsenic observations...[Zazen] makes a case for hope and meaning amid sheer madness." Endless things to talk about here. Topics of conversation include: mindless jobs, minimum wage, stripping, company loyalty, stock loyalty, the Atlantic, deadlines, query letters, Amazon, New Orleans, privilege, bartending, hitchhiking, Texas, Communism, Linda Ellerbee, Murphy Brown, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Greenwich Village, boarding school, Myers-Briggs, couch surfing, homelessness, hands, Thanksgiving, Europe, punk rock, Alaska, Seattle, flannel, Candlebox, songwriting, memoir, MFAs, and visceral life experience.
Alan Heathcock is the guest. He's the author of the critically acclaimed story collection VOLT, now available from Graywolf Press. Volt was named a Best Book of 2011 by a variety of publications, including Publishers Weekly, GQ, the Chicago Tribune, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Salon, Shelf Awareness, and BookPage. Joy Williams calls it "booming, cracking good." Topics of conversation include: Chicago, life balance, teaching, publicity, Boise, book tour, introversion, Donald Ray Pollock, readers, book clubs, the invasive nature of violence, Roy Rogers, The Shining, Stanley Kubrick, All the President's Men, Netflix, greatness, the zoo, and ghost hunting.